“Her proven leadership, her vision, knowledge and understanding of nonprofits and of the community will take our chapter to even greater levels,” says William C. Boinest, outgoing chairman of the chapter’s board of directors.
A day after being officially approved by the national chapter in Washington, D.C., Barrett beams with excitement — for the job and her vision for Richmond’s Red Cross.
“Before Heath came, the chapter had fairly low visibility,” Barrett says. “What I’m looking to do is build on his success and drive home to people that we are your Red Cross.”
To do this, Barrett plans to sharpen the local chapter’s community focus and help redefine its public image. “This is a different Red Cross from the World War II Red Cross,” she says, pointing to emblematic posters of the time. “Today, we have to be prepared for everything from situations of bioterrorism and terrorist attacks to natural disasters,” she says.
The recent fire that destroyed dorms that were under construction at Virginia Commonwealth University is a perfect example of how the Red Cross responds to disaster, especially when it strikes unexpectedly.
“We were actually the first ones on the scene,” Barrett says, before the Richmond Fire Department, because Red Cross workers were having lunch at VCU when the fire erupted. They fed firefighters and went door to door through the adjacent Carver neighborhood to make sure everyone was safe.
The Greater Richmond Chapter employs 50 or so staffers, boasts 2,500 volunteers and serves residents of Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Amelia, Goochland, Powhatan and New Kent counties.
Barrett acknowledges she has big shoes to fill. In his 11-year tenure, Rada enjoyed much success — and popularity. The Richmond chapter serves as a statewide command center during hurricanes like Fran, Floyd and last year’s Isabel. And Rada oversaw relief efforts for each. He also arranged the local response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, sending area volunteers and staff to New York and to the Pentagon.
Barrett seems confident in her own approach that includes growing CPR classes and swimming lessons and launching a new marketing campaign. In addition, the chapter will soon start raising money through a donated-vehicle drive. “We want Brandon Walters
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